Doc's 5 Tips on Drinking Better for Less


Monday, December 5, 2016

Presentation of Cork

Did you know that the historical reason the waiter or sommelier in a restaurant gives you the cork when the bottle is opened is to prevent fraud? The presentation of the cork originated to curtail fraudulent dealers from passing off a wine for something it wasn’t. Usually, the cork was stamped with the producer’s name. When it was extracted from the bottle, it was presented to the purchaser to prove it actually was the wine stated on the label that was requested. Today, the presentation of the cork continues that tradition, but goes further. If the cork looks mouldy or defective or smells bad, then the wine might be problematic. If so, address the issue with the sommelier, wait staff or owner.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Climate Change and Natural Disasters

It’s no secret that climate change is affecting our weather, changing what grapes can grow in what places. Weather is also more severe. Stronger storms (rain and snow) are damaging vineyards. This ever-changing climate seems to also be causing more earthquakes. They’re on the rise, especially in parts of the world that are prone to them. Check out the “Ring of Fire”, that part of the Pacific: the east coast of Japan and New Zealand and the west coast of North and South America. Except for North America, all of these countries have recently had earthquakes. It’s only a matter of time until the Pacific coast wine regions of N. America get hit. Even Italy’s wine regions have had several. Scary stuff!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Signature White Grape Varieties

Many countries are also known for particular white grape varieties that they excel with. France has numerous in specific regions. Chardonnay shines in Burgundy with very elegant versions sporting lots of finesse. Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley is the ultimate incarnation of this grape. Gewurztraminer in Alsace is rich and aromatic and the best this varietal can be. Canada, especially the Niagara region in Ontario, does a phenomenal job with Riesling. The Marlborough region of New Zealand’s south island produces a rich, tropical fruity version of Sauvignon Blanc that is to die for and the north of Italy shines with crisp, fresh, models of Pinot Grigio. Gotta try some of these varietal wines that make these countries/regions famous. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Signature Red Grape Varieties

Certain countries are known for particular grape varieties that they excel with. Argentina does a great job with Malbec because of longer hang time on the vines. Due to its terroir, Australian Shiraz takes on more of a coffee, chocolate character than its Syrah persona and is divine. Zinfandel has become a national treasure of California and is exclusive to that region. Italy boasts two biggies: Sangiovese (Brunello, Vino Nobile, Chianti) and Nebbiolo (Barolo, Brabaresco) which are legendary. Pinotage in South Africa has become their hallmark varietal. For Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France, hands down, provides the most consistent offerings and finally, Spain’s Tempranillo is world-famous in the likes of Rioja.

Monday, November 7, 2016


Sagrantino is a little known, small production, red, grape variety from the Umbria region of central Italy, primarily grown around the village of Motefalco. There are about 50 producers who make a DOCG wine from it. It must be aged for at least 29 months before it can be released. It’s a tannic little bugger resulting in a rustic wine that is black to inky purple in colour and smacks of dark red fruit, with earthy, cinnamon, tarry, plumy, leathery notes. It originated as a “passito” style wine where the grapes were dried out on mats increasing the alcohol and sweetness resulting in a potent (aprox. 16% alcohol) dessert-style wine. In the last 40 years or so it has evolved into a dry style, although some producers still create the “passito” version.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Unoaked Chardonnay

Chardonnay is one of those grape varieties that takes oak treatment extremely well and consumers just love the toasty, vanilla, creaminess it adds. In fact, oak is what gives the “vanilla of wine” most of its character as it’s pretty bland without. Most producers worldwide use it, often overdoing it. However, some producers choose not to oak their Chardonnay. Chablis in Burgundy was known for its unoaked Chardonnay before many winemakers jumped on the oak bandwagon. Selected producers elsewhere in the world create unoaked version. Truthfully, it is very difficult to make a really good unoaked Chardonnay. Without oak, this grape must rely on other winemaking techniques to add character and even then, great ones are hard to come by.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mead (Honey Wine)

While reading or studying ancient history or folk literature, you’ll most likely come across an alcoholic beverage called “mead”. Very simply, it is a type of wine made mostly from honey. Fermentation usually includes water, but often other ingredients like spices, fruits, hops or grains for additional flavour. It’s versatile too as it can be made still, sparkling, crackling (naturally sparkling), dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, or even very sweet. This interesting beverage has really fallen out of grace over the last century, but surprisingly is enjoying a resurgence of sorts. Many wineries and even breweries are producing meads today.
The modern version has come a long way from the somewhat cruder drink of times gone by.